Health Reform More Urgent Than Ever

7-21-09, 9:47 am

Families are in desperate need of health reform, President Obama said in remarks at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC, July 20. In his statement, after meeting with the hospital's administrators, doctors and nurses, the President also warned against Republican obstructionism on health reform.

Health professionals, although giving an heroic effort, he said, 'are forced to fight through a system that works better for drug companies and insurance companies than for the American people.'

'Over the past decade premiums have doubled. Out-of-pocket costs have shot up by a third,' the President pointed out. More and more American families resort to emergency rooms as the main source of access to care, which ensures that medical care costs more without making Americans any healthier. 'That's the status quo, and it's only going to get worse,' he added.

'If we do nothing, then families will spend more and more of their income for less and less care,' he stated. Without reform, the number of people who lose their coverage because they change jobs or lose their jobs will continue to grow. Children will continue to be excluded from insurance coverage due to chronic conditions like asthma. Take home pay and the financial stability of small businesses will continue to be at risk, if Congress fails to act on reform urgently.

'Yet, even as America's families have been battered, by spiraling health care costs, health insurance companies and their executives have reaped windfall profits from a broken system,' President Obama explained.

'The need for reform is urgent and it is indisputable,' he went on. 'No one denies we're on an unsustainable path.' Health reform will make care more efficient and less costly by systematizing electronic records, providing more choices of insurance plans and doctors and by eliminating the practice of denying care to families and children because of preexisting conditions, the President said.

Pushing back against Republican opposition to health reform, President Obama this week launched a national campaign for urgent passage of health reform proposals in Congress.

'Now there are some in this town who are content to perpetuate the status quo, and who are in fact fighting reform on behalf of powerful special interests,' the President pointed out. 'There are others who recognize the problem but believe or perhaps hope that we can put off the hard work insurance reform for another day.'

The President quoted one Republican, whom he did not identify, who suggested obstructionism on health reform could 'break' Obama and be his 'Waterloo.' Sen. Jim DeMint, R, S.C., a staunch opponent of the President from day one, made the remarks at a fundraiser for a conservative attack group last Friday.

'This isn't about me. This isn't about politics,' the President fired about. 'This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy.'

President Obama warned that taking the easy way out in order to satisfy 'the politics of the moment' will only bring more harm on American working families.

The health reform bill that will be signed into law, President Obama pledged, will be deficit neutral and will control costs of health care over the long-term. Major committees in both the House and Senate have passed health reform bills and the White House says final bill should be ready to vote on before the August recess.

The President's drive for health reform won a major endorsement last week when the American Medical Association (AMA) announced it would back the bill being prepared for a vote in the House. Other professional associations, including the American Academy of Family Practitioners, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the National Physician's Alliance, the Committee of Interns and Residents and the Doctors Council of SEIU Healthcare and the Student National Medical Association have all expressed strong support for the President's health reform package.

In an interview on MSNBC, July 20, White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy Ann Deparle said, 'there are some people who want to slow this down because they want to kill health reform.' She expressed confidence that Democratic leaders in the Senate are working hard to pass a bill that meets the President's principles. The country is closer than ever to passing a major reform, and 'we want Congress to feel pressure about that.'

The President scored another victory this week when Sen. Olympia Snowe, R, Maine, announced her support for urgent passage of health reform with a public option.

In addition to July 20 event at the Children's National Medical Center, over the weekend, President Obama made passage of health reform the subject of his weekly address. This week, the President will make scheduled stops in different parts of the country urging quick congressional action.

See the President's speech here: